Faces of Cebu Life!

FACES OF CEBU: Karren Songbird, 45, transgender parent

Karren Songbird father

Kevin Lechadores or “Karren Songbird” in the local entertainment scene. | Contributed photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The stereotypical image of a “superhero” father is that of a big and strong man who is ready to protect his family at all times.

However, this image is an inaccurate representation as fathers come in all forms, sizes, and genders.

Moreover, families are not always formed because of blood relation.  There are those who choose to become parents to those who are not related to them by blood.

READ: FACES OF CEBU: Gaudioso Cabaral, 79, shell carver

Meet 45-year-old Kevin Lechadores who is better known as “Karren Songbird” in the local entertainment scene. 

Karren, a transgender woman, embraced parenthood for a child who is not her blood relative.

And she did not have any regrets.

READ: FACES OF CEBU: Arnelle Famor, father, educator, public servant

Karren said she loved being a parent to her former partner’s eldest son, Gilbert Jo.

And the best part was that parenthood changed her life in ways that she never even imagined possible.

To date, Karren continues to care and provide Gilbert with guidance as he is now starting his own family.

Becoming a parent

Karren recalled that she first met Gilbert when he was barely one year old.  Since then, she started to love and care for the boy and considered him as her own.

READ: Fisherman from Naga aspires to catch dream for his children’s future

But Karren admitted that being a parent was never easy because she was also at the prime of her career as an entertainer then.

After a few years, she was separated from the boy after she also broke up with his father.

Karren said that she was heartbroken because of the breakup and hurt for having to part ways with Gilbert.

READ: Cebuano lines our fathers often say that make us shiver

Then, she learned that the boy, who was already 10-years-old then, skipped classes for a year.

She was also told that Gilbert deeply missed her and that he wanted to stay with her for good.

He even told his father that he will shape up and focus on his studies if he were allowed to stay with Karren.

READ: ‘Maton’ from Brgy Suba, Cebu City proud father of two transwomen

Karren said that her ex-partner spoke to her about his son’s concerns and she never had any second thoughts about making him stay with her.

“Ako sad, di sad nako ma-take nga ingon ana. Nga kalooy sad sa bata. So, wholeheartedly akong gidawat og balik bisag di siya ako,” she said.

Raising a child on her own

Karren said she was both a mother and father to Gilbert.  She also made sure that he was well provided.

READ: ‘Bayot’ and queer labels: Exploring Cebuanos’ view on SOGIE

She admitted that the responsibility was too much for her but she never gave up. Instead, she worked harder to provide for his needs.

Karren Songbird father

Karren works as a singer-comedian in a comedy bar in Cebu City. | Contributed photo

Karren is a registered nurse, but she fell in love with the stage and pursued her passion for singing and hosting.  She currently works as a singer-comedian in a comedy bar in Cebu City.

From her income as an entertainer, Karren made sure that Gilbert lives the life that he deserved.

READ: Being a Transwoman: Transitioning is ‘bravery’

And while she was exhausted after a day’s work, Karren said that her son was always there to provide her comfort and happiness.

She said that she was also lucky that Gilbert got accepted as a varsity player for his school and earned a scholarship that helped him through college.

Now 25-years-old, Gilbert already graduated from college.  He also moved out from Karren’s home to stay with his partner and their three-year-old daughter.  But he and his family constantly visits Karren.

Karren said she feels blessed for their growing family.

Karren Songbird father

Karren loves spending quality time with her son and his family. | Contributed photo

No regrets

Looking back, Karren said she had no regrets. 

As she reminisced the past, Karren said she made a decision to change herself for the better for her own sake and for her son.

She also feels lucky that Gilbert loved her deeply as he made her experience the joys of parenthood.

And their bond continues to grow through the years.

But she admitted that there were times when she felt uncertain about becoming a parent.  She even had second thoughts about attending his school activities.

Karren said she was well aware that there were those who did not like the idea of Gilbert staying with her.

Her son was also bullied for having a transgender parent, who works at a comedy bar.  But Gilbert was never embarrassed of having her as his parent.

On the contrary, he would even insist for Karren to join him on stage as he accepts his medals for his academic excellence.

Gilbert also insisted that she come to his high school graduation.

Karren said that her heart was filled with glee knowing that her son was proud of her and accepted who she was.

Colorful life

Through the years, Karren said she has learned to deal with people who question her decision to become a parent despite her being a transgender woman.

Instead of getting angry or feeling down, she would just tell them that she felt it in her heart that she had to care for Gilbert.

“Naa juy mga tawo nga moingon nga ‘di man na nimo anak uy, nganong ikaw man nibuhi and?’ Ingon ko, kinsa may mobuhi kung wala ko? Dili sad ko kaako nga biyaan. Di na nako matake nga pasagdan nga ako man diay gipangita,” Karren said.

And she was certain that she made the right decision to care for her son because Gilbert grew up to become a loving and responsible man.  And he gave her a granddaughter whom she loves with all her heart.

Karren said that being with her family makes her life more colorful than ever.

Karren Songbird father

Karren and her 3-year-old grandaughter. | Contributed photo

Karren’s story is a testament that familial love is not limited to blood relatives.   

She also proved that being a father is not only limited to the display of physical strength but taking responsibility and caring for the people that you love.

TAGS: Cebu City, father, singer, Transgender
Latest Stories
Most Read